The Chinese take on Pinterest


New Chinese social media sites have long been inspired by popular sites and trends from the West, such as Facebook’s distant cousin Renren and Twitter’s brother Sina Weibo.  It is no surprise then that they have embraced Pinterest with both arms.

Rather than just creating direct clones of the site, they have been inspired by the image-heavy, ‘waterfall-like’ layout (the Chinese describe the dynamic grid as ‘Pubuliu’, meaning ‘waterfall stream’), creating new sites that use this layout but add different features or use it in different ways to Pinterest. We’ve found over 30 Chinese Pinterest variants (and we reckon the number is growing); here are a selection of the most interesting ones.

Chinese pinterest sites
View more presentations from FreshNetworks

General interest sites

Huaban (meaning ‘Petal’) and Pinfun (no translation needed; even the logo looks familiar)

These sites closely emulate Pinterest , with users collecting, pinning and sharing images, video clips (Huaban) and gif files (Pinfun) of interest.  However, the content is mainly related to Chinese culture, such as upcoming Chinese festivity, popular Chinese stars, food and scenery in China.  Pinfun also has a link called ‘Pandora’, linking merchandise images to the online shopping website Taobao.

Food-specific sites

Meishixing (meaning ‘Gourmet Journey’) and LSKong (‘Lingshi’ means ‘Snacks’; ‘Kong’ means ‘Control’)

Meishixing allows users to share pictures of restaurant dishes they’ve eaten and liked, and ones that make them drool.  Click on the images and the restaurant name and its Google Map location are displayed.  Foodies can browse images according to cities in China; so far there are 38, and likely to increase.  LSKong focuses on snacks, finger food, tea, wine and Chinese medicinal drinks.  What makes LSKong different is its focus on each user’s profile page.  Like Facebook’s profile timeline feature, user’s ID page displays pictures and comments on their snacks; this invites other nibblers to comment on your discoveries too.

Fashion-based sites


Early in March 2012 Alibaba Group launched their social shopping website Faxian (meaning ‘Discovery’) beta version.  Specifically targeted at female users, the site allows fashionistas to share and comment on items on virtual pin boards.  By clicking on images it also allows users to purchase items on Taobao.

Mogujie (meaning ‘Mushroom Street’)

Finally, we should look at the growing success of Mogujie (meaning ‘Mushroom Street’), launched in 2010.  The founder Chen Qi developed the concept of combining online shopping and web forums in 2008 by first experimenting with a cosmetics community website his wife was using.  He discovered that users are often unsure of what to buy and which products are stylish, or suitable to them.   Mogujie was already popular amongst females aged 18 to 25 (hence the site’s cutesy mushroom mascot), but when the site incorporated Pinterest’s visually attractive, image-heavy ‘waterfall’ layout, its number of daily visitors soared.  Since last December there were 400,000 registered fashionistas, and 120,000 daily visitors.

Mogujie has a rigorous user registration process; not only do you have to register your name and date of birth, you can add details of your height, weight, skin condition, shoe size and vital statistics. Like LSKong’s focus on profile pages, popular users become models showing everyone what and how they dress (like the UK site What I Wore Today), and provide fashion guidance to her followers.  There are pages dedicated to fashion brands, such as Topshop, Zara and H&M, and the items all link to the relevant pages on Taobao.

Mogujie is also not only about materialism.  During the Chinese Valentine’s Day (the 7th day in July according to the lunar calendar), the site set up a forum for single ladies spilling out their singleton woes, which became hugely popular and only adds to the site’s financial success.

Chen Qi is quick to point out that apart from the ‘waterfall’ layout, Mogujie is different from Pinterest in content and community management style. It is still early stages to decide which of the few Chinese Pinterest variants are here to stay, but we know that to copy like for like will not be sustainable.

Building the Web 2.0 enterprise


The latest edition of the McKinsey Quarterly includes the results from their global survey of Web 2.0 in firms. The survey documents the developments that we see at FreshNetworks - more firms are using more Web 2.0 tools for more complex business purposes. McKinsey go even further, noting that a significant finding from this year’s survey is that:

Companies that are deriving business value from these tools are now shifting from using them experimentally to adopting them as part of a broader business practice.

Web 2.0 tools are starting to enter the mainstream in business, those who trial them find them beneficial and want to look at ways they can use these tools across their business, helping them meet multiple aims.

If you’re interested in some of the detail of the McKinsey study, I’d suggest you go to the article on their site here (you will need to sign-up, although it is free). However, for me the most interesting findings are:

  • More community-based tools are growing in their use. In 2008, 34% of businesses studies used blogs (compared with 21% in 2007); 32% used wikis (compared with 24% in 2007)
  • Web 2.0 tools are popular both for internal purposes (94% of firms studied) and for interfacing with customers (87% of firms studied). When they are being used for the latter purpose, this is primarily to improve service to existing customers and then as an acquisition tool
  • Blogs were more popular in Asia-Pacific and India; social networking particularly popular in North America and China; and, mash-ups and rating more popular in Europe
  • The biggest barriers to using Web 2.0 tools are a lack of understanding of the financial benefits (28% of respondents), internal cultural barriers (22%) and lack of skills (17%)

This last point, the barriers to adoption, show the areas where we as an industry need to focus our efforts to help clients. We have written before on this blog about measurement and ROI in online communities and in social media (see posts here, here and here) and it seems that this is the biggest barrier that firms need support with. Perhaps as these firms move from trialling the use of new tools, to using them for specific business purposes, the measurement of how they contribute to these will be easier.

  • Are Social Media Jobs Here to Stay?
  • Web 2.0 Design and Internet Marketing
  • Analysis: McKinsey’s enterprise web 2.0 survey
  • Gartner throws weight behind enterprise Web 2.0

The impact of social media: research from Universal McCann


I saw a really useful set of research findings today from Universal McCann, the third wave of their research into the impact of social media. The research comes from a couple of months ago but is a fantastic digest based on a large respondent base.

The slide deck is below and is very detailed and worth going through, but I thought I’d pull out three highlights that resonate with our own experiences at FreshNetworks.

  • The research highlights the power and continuing rise of the Asian social media market. China has more bloggers than the US and Western Europe combined and across the region social media growth is huge. I’ve seen this for a number of years, often investigating the Asian market (especially South Korea, China and Japan) for clients wanting to know what the next thing to hit the Western Europe might be.
  • Video is the fastest growing reported area with significant growth in penetration across all regions. We see this every day - a growth in the use of video on sites and of making video portable and shareable. I know that the BBC in the UK has seen a significant rise in the viewing of video in its news site since it started embedding video rather than linking to it.
  • There is a measurable impact of social media on brand reputation. The research shows that 34% of people post opinions (positive or negative) about brands and that 36% feel more positive about brands that have a blog. This is an interesting finding, our recent post on brand blogging talked about how brands might get this right, this research underlines the importance of getting it right.

The slide deck below covers the full detail of the research findings and I really think it is worth your while reading it. It’s particularly useful for looking at how different regions and countries are developing in different ways.

  • Report: Like it or not, number of bloggers growing rapidly
  • UK Social Network User, Ad Spend Numbers Keep Growing
  • Firms ‘miss’ social site success
  • YouTube most popular network site
  • Summer Social-Network Traffic Still Sizzling, but Down from ’07

And you thought Twitter was just a fad


It started with a flurry of short messages. “I felt an earthquake” came one message from peanutbrittle25. “EARTH QUAKE in Beijing?? Yup” came a reply from dtan.

Short messages like these spread across the world and for the rest of today people were glued to their screens to watch what was happening. With updates direct from the scene. But these weren’t traditional news outlets. The messages spread through Twitter.

Social networking works because I connect with my friends and then they connect with their friends. This pattern continues and means that messages can travel very quickly between people - one person tells everybody they know; all of these people then tell everybody they know. And so on.

This is what happened today with twitter and the earthquake in China. It became a “crowd-sourced” reporting tool with people on the ground being able to report what’s happening, what it’s really like, where they were when it happened, what happened next. All the questions people want to know when events are unfolding, and the kind of details that traditional journalists would hunt out to report the next day. With twitter we can, and could, get this information in real-time and well-connected people could act as nodes, receiving and transmitting the updates.

Innovation in news has often been about reducing the time between an eye-witness reporting on an event and it getting to the reader. The Crimean War was a big step forward as the extension of railways and telegraph networks across Europe let reports come back in just a few days - ‘real-time’ reporting as it felt in the 19th Century. Today we can reduce this time to practically nothing. Somebody can witness an event, text twitter and the network effect on the web spreads the message around the world. Now that’s a rather exciting development!

Of course, this doesn’t mean the end of professional journalism; peanutbrittle25 works for the BBC in Beijing, as a journalist!